Microsoft’s giant deal with Activision Blizzard is complete and means Ubisoft has now secured the cloud streaming rights to Obligations, all other current Activision Blizzard games and those to be released in the next 15 years. It was a key concession from Microsoft that helped the deal clear with UK regulators. But what does all that mean?
Ubisoft will now control where Obligations and other Activision Blizzard games appear on cloud gaming services, with the exception of EU countries and the various cloud gaming agreements that Microsoft previously signed. If you live in a country that is part of the European Economic Area (EEA), which includes EU countries and also Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, you will get a free license to stream via “any cloud game streaming service.” your choice”. ”All current and future Activision Blizzard games for PC and console that you have purchased.
If you’re outside the EEA, then it’s up to Ubisoft which services get the cloud streaming rights for Activision Blizzard games, including licensing them to Microsoft to include them in Xbox Cloud Gaming. In theory, Ubisoft could deny Microsoft a license for future Activision Blizzard games, but in reality that’s highly unlikely to happen. However, Microsoft will need to pay a wholesale agreement fee to license Activision Blizzard games for its cloud services.
It’s also legally possible for Ubisoft to offer Activision Blizzard games exclusively on certain cloud providers, but again, it’s highly unlikely. I say unlikely because, unlike secret deals in the gaming industry to gain exclusivity or keep games out of Xbox Game Pass, everyone knows that Ubisoft controls the rights here and the company would face backlash if it tried to deny or block games from certain cloud services. . Cloud providers will also continue to be offered a free license to stream these games in EU markets, thanks to the European Commission’s solution.
Several companies wanted cloud gaming rights for Activision Blizzard games and essentially had to take it to the UK Competition and Markets Authority. The interview-like process meant that the CMA selected the companies that would work best with its cloud gaming concerns, and it was then up to Microsoft to ultimately decide which company to restructure its deal with.
“We have been active in the streaming space for a long time and that is one of the reasons Microsoft came to us; we were the first studio Google worked with for Stadia; the first company Amazon worked with for Luna; and we have been a partner of NVIDIA GeForce Now for years.” explains chris early, senior vice president of strategic partnerships and business development at Ubisoft. “For Microsoft, it made sense that if anyone was going to be familiar with the space and know what the value of streaming would be, it would be us. And we also saw the value.”
The deal with Ubisoft means that Activision Blizzard games will now be available on Ubisoft Plus, the company’s game subscription service. Work begins today to add these games to Ubisoft’s subscription, but it is unclear when they will all be available.
While the agreement lasts for 15 years, the licenses are perpetual, so Ubisoft will continue to own the rights and can continue to provide games to people and companies around the world (outside the EEA) even after those 15 years pass. .
“Our expectation is that they will be in Ubisoft Plus, and then we will have the rights to be able to give individual licenses to companies as well,” says Early. “Maybe there’s a company somewhere in the world that wants to license those rights and add them to the streaming service they have or start a new streaming service, and I think that’s going to be part of the fun of the next 15 or so years of how The streaming evolves.”
Microsoft cloud gaming deals
Activision Blizzard games will also be available on a variety of cloud gaming services thanks to deals Microsoft struck to appease EU regulators. Those agreements include:
- Nvidia: operator of the GeForce Now cloud gaming service
- Boosteroid – the largest independent cloud gaming provider based in Ukraine
- Nware: cloud gaming provider based in Spain
- Ubitus – Taiwan-based cloud gaming provider
- EE: British mobile network provider
Microsoft has also signed agreements with Nintendo and Sony to Obligations and made a commitment to Valve to maintain Obligations in your Steam store.